Love Story
Mark Steyn
(”Love Story” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Boy mogul Mark Steyn The Kid Stays In The Picture is the film of the book — or, more accurately, the film of the audiobook, since it was the tape version of Robert Evans's autobiography that caught the fancy of Los Angeles. The rumbling, growled confessional of a spaced-out tough-guy lounge-act, Robert Mitchum played by Austin Powers, it needed only some accompanying pictures, which Brett Morgen
(Review Source)
Hugh Hewitt
(”Love Story” is briefly mentioned in this.)
HH: It’s Thursday, and as it is we are lucky, we’ve got Mark Steyn in the house. Hello, Mark, greetings, where do we find you today?   MS: I’m in the great state of New Hampshire today, Hugh.   HH: Back in the States. That’s great. Now Mark, I have an idea, and you sometimes don’t accept my ideas, but I think this one’s really good.   MS: Okay.   HH: You know, I raise a lot of funds for causes like the Semper Fi Fund and Fisher House and Hillsdale. So I think if we go to Colorado, I think for $1,000, maybe even $2,500 dollars a seat, we get some Tim Horton doughnuts, little Canadian flavor, and inspired by Maureen Dowd, we add some completely legal Colorado dope, and an hour later, you take the stage and you explain the President’s West Point speech and the deal with the Taliban. We call it Stoned On Steyn. What do you think?   MS: (laughing) Well, you know, the problem with that is you don’t need to pay $2,500 dollars to hear stoners explaining U.S. Government policy, because the quality of the people who are actually out there representing America to the world might as well be on marijuana-infused Tim Horton’s Doughnuts. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the Benghazi dude. That was like, well, that like so two years ago, dude, that guy.   HH: Tommy Vietor.   MS: Or Benghazi dude’s sister, who is now in charge of the State Department, apparently, the chicky with the smarty girl glasses who was saying okay, so like these soldiers think they like know so much just because they were totally like over there, but that’s not the whole story. You don’t need to pay, you don’t need to actually hire stoned Coloradans. We might as well be having them running the place.   HH: Well, I just think that you might actually be able to, I’m not suggesting you have any of the Tim Horton’s Doughnuts that are Dowded up. I just want you to try and make sense. I want to play a little bit of the President’s West Point speech, and I don’t know if anyone would understand this, stoned or not, but here’s what he had to say.   BO: In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise, who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.   HH: Now Mark Steyn, given that your last two books have done little other than argue those points, I guess you’re either engaged in partisan politics or, I don’t know, stoned.   MS: Well look, they’re now saying that China will become the world’s number one economy before the end of the year. I don’t know whether that’s true. In my book, the only thing After America got wrong, I think, was that I failed to see how swiftly the whole thing would happen. I think in After America, I predicted, I used the Goldman Sachs thing, that China would become the world’s number one economy sometime in the next decade. It’s likely to happen at the end of this year, because the American economy is sluggish and going nowhere. And so Obama is going to finish his term in a position that no U.S. president has been in since I think Grover Cleveland. He’s going to be the number two guy. He’s going to be the global also-ran. So what American leadership? Economic leadership is likely to be gone by the end of the year, geopolitical leadership, he’s out there working, doing his 12 ounce curls in the gym in Warsaw in his mom jeans while Putin’s riding around annexing all kinds of territory, the mullahs are doing what they want, the Politburo’s doing what they want, and the Taliban, who are goat herds with fertilizer, have just beaten the United States of America.   HH: Not just beaten, trounced. There is a story at Time Magazine this afternoon by Aryn Baker that reports the news of the detainees, the Gitmo Five’s release, spread like wildfire. “Besides our field commanders and fighters, our leader Mullah Mohammad Omar is so happy and is anxiously waiting to see his heroes.” It goes on like this. It’s the greatest day since 9/11 for the Taliban, Mark Steyn.   MS: Yes, I think that’s true, and I think that’s what, I think that’s what none of us quite understand. I mean, what happened with this deal is bad on every level. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking at it from the point of view of the five guys who are going to be wandering around Qatar and then who knows where, it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the Bergdahl end, it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the strict legality of what Obama did. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about those creepy, freaky, weirdo optics of the Rose Garden photo op, which is now being seen all around the Muslim world as some kind of Islamic submission by the great Satan, the point of which the dad was doing his Allah the most merciful routine. It doesn’t matter which angle you take. It makes absolutely no sense for the United States.   HH: Do you think we could float the idea that in fact the five terrorists have had GPS or listening devices implanted in them so you might not want to sit next to them at the next whatever they call their big get-togethers? MS: (laughing) I was listening to you talking to Alex Berenson.   HH: Yes.   MS: And I think you made the point that the only plausible, Alex Berenson is a liberal novelist whose character in his thrillers is a fellow who’s been in deep cover in Afghanistan for years.   HH: Yup.   MS: …and converted to Islam, and then came back and worked for the CIA.   HH: John Wells.   MS: And yeah, if this were a novel, and unfortunately, this is the difference between thrillers and real life. If this were a novel, then this guy, Bergdahl, would be part of some elaborate deep cover thing, and he’d be coming back with all the inside dope on Mullah Omar in preparatory to a raid in which we nail that guy once and for all. But the reality is that life isn’t like a conspiracy thriller, and we aren’t that good. In fact, we’re pathetic. We’re pathetic. And I wish there were some complex conspiracy theory explanation for this, but the reality of it too bleak and too depressing.   HH: There’s one good aspect, which I want to call your attention to, since you appear not to be willing to sign onto the Stoned On Steyn tour. Maybe this will persuade you. It turns out, according to Time Magazine, in March of 2012, negotiations, same sort of negotiations, were so close that Bergdahl had already been handed over to senior members of the Taliban Council in Afghanistan to take him over the border. Then it collapsed. That means the same or very close to the same deal was contemplated when Hillary was in charge, which means, I don’t know what her memoir is going to say about that. That’s going to be an interesting index to see if we can find Bergdahl in the index of Hillary’s memoir. But there’s another stone on the top of her ambition to become president, because she was all for this.   MS: Yeah, I think it’s very interesting. I mean, there’s competing views on this. And it’s interesting to me that for example, Leon Panetta, who was previously Defense Secretary, was opposed to this. And it’s disturbing to me, because I think there’s only two possibilities. One is that these guys are just clueless, and the other is something slightly more complex, that Obama actually thinks that strengthening the Taliban is part of his view for the new world he’s bringing into being. I remember I had a lunch with a very prominent Republican figure just before Obama became president, and I was all unnerved about it, and he said well, don’t worry, you know, okay, Obama doesn’t seem to know anything, he’s a community organizer, he’s a left winger. But the usual guys are going to be in charge. And he implied that around Obama, there would be like Lloyd Bentsen figures preventing this stuff from happening. And the reality is the only Lloyd Bentsen figure in this administration, the Lloyd Bentsen part is being played by Joe Biden, which is dumber than getting it played by Leslie Nielsen. There’s just nobody, there’s nobody with a serious worldview in this administration.   HH: No, you’re right. Rumsfeld used to say A’s hire A’s, B’s hire C’s. Well, we’re down below the C’s. As you point out, the good old days when Tommy Vietor was running around the NSC and running things, dude boy, there’s nobody left in this administration, Mark Steyn, and we have 30 months to go.   MS: Yeah, and I think that’s the incredible thing. At some point, the benign explanation for this hideous ceremony at the White House last weekend, which is astonishing to me, because I know, or everybody is very careful. You have to undergo a background check normally just to get into a presidential event now. You’ve got to give your Social Security number, they run it, they see who you are and everything. To get on a stage with a head of state, they normally want you to know what you’re going to be saying beforehand. And the fact that you know, Obama’s words in Brussels today, for example, saying well, this was a father and his child, his 28 year old whatever that is, grade 23 child, you know, every parent wants to get their grade 23 child back. The fact of the matter…and we don’t leave anyone behind. The fact is, he walked out and he left America behind, this guy, and he did it, by the way, on the advice of his father. He wrote to his father saying I hate America, it’s a horror, I want to renounce my citizenship. And his father emails back, follow your conscience.   HH: Oh, my God. Stay right there, Mark Steyn. It’s a doubleheader, Steyn doubleheader as we begin the Stoned On Steyn tour, a little taste here on the Hugh Hewitt Show   — – – –   HH: I am the self-appointed promoter of the new Stoned On Steyn tour, which can only actually play in Colorado and Washington State. Mark would not himself be under the influence, but we would invite everyone else to have Tim Horton’s Doughnuts, Dowd Doughnuts, we’d call them, laced with dope to listen to his explanation of the President’s foreign policy. Mark, during the break, I saw a story by James Rosen over at Fox News. U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at one point during his captivity converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors, declared himself a mujahid, a warrior for Islam, according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account, and obtained by Fox News. The same report goes on, however, to quote General James Mattis, who may be, I think, one of the most influential and smart guys in the world, as saying there was absolutely never any evidence of collaboration. I think there’s a lot of evidence of stupidity running around here, and it’s not just in the Bergdahl family. It’s in everyone who handled this episode.   MS: Yes, I think that’s right. I mean, you’re talking about in a sane world, would you want the optics of the President standing next to this guy with the big beard talking in Arabic, talking in Pashto and all the rest of it, about the triumph of getting back a guy who at best is a deserter and at worst is something dying. Now look, the Afghan war is America’s longest war. It’s going to be, it’s been America’s longest un-won war for quite a while. And about ten minutes after the last NATO soldier leaves, it’s going to be America’s longest lost war. That’s just the situation we’re in. And that being so, though, granted all that, one can understand the guys out there fighting this thankless war at the sharp end, that the strain is incredible. The point I was making just before the break, though, is that his dad back in Idaho, who isn’t under any strain or whatever, actually advised his son in this email…   HH: Yup.   MS: …to go and desert. Now all these people, this is the most lavishly-funded government on the planet. Where is there, why can’t they do ten minutes of Googling and then say do we want the President standing next to this fellow given what’s going on? Why didn’t they look at the Rolling Stone piece? Why didn’t they look at the Daily Mail story from 2010? And the question here then become well, maybe they did, and they still didn’t care. And if that’s the case, then this isn’t about the Bergdahl family, and it isn’t about the five guys, the big Taliban dream team. It’s about a much darker, moral relativist, emptiness at the heart of the global superpower.   HH: Now Mark, on that note, I want to model President Obama’s focus and seriousness by switching to the subject of disco. And I want to do that based upon what you wrote today over at www.steynonline.com, and in what must have been a seriously deranged piece of writing that suggested to me, originally, actually, the Stoned On Steyn tour, because you wrote, and I think you were serious, that there was great music buried somewhere in Andy Williams’ blockbuster arrangement of Where Do I Begin.   MS: Yeah.   HH: So you’re standing by that assertion?   MS: I am. And you know, Where Do I Begin, Andy Williams had, it’s the big theme from Love Story, which was based on Al Gore, according to Al Gore. But Love Story was a blockbuster movie in the beginning of the 70s, and the big theme from it became a boffo easy listening smash for Andy Williams. And at the end of the 70s, like everybody else, and like I did with Marshmallow World a couple of years ago, and like Bob Dylan in a couple of years when he’s doing the disco version of Like A Rolling Stone, Andy Williams did a disco version that you just played a bit of, of Where Do I Begin. And I listened to that thinking it was just going to be a laugh, and it was going to be the cheesiest thing since the extra cheesy cheesecloth shirt was invented, and I in fact, I thought wow, this guy, Andy is like really into, I don’t know, it’s not a big record, I don’t know how many dance floors is ever packed, but the disco version of Andy Williams doing the theme from Love Story, I would, I don’t have to be stoned. I don’t have to be Tim Horton’s Doughnuts, and you know, if you’re trying to make a big deal about this, then you know, I will fight you. I will fight you like these Taliban guys out of Gitmo over the right to play Andy Williams’ disco record.   HH: Well, then you went further. And I…I’m not making this up. I encourage all of the audience to head over to www.steynonline.com. I’m not making this up. Mark Steyn actually defends the string arrangements on Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.   MS: Yes.   HH: Was this a slow day in New Hampshire?   MS: No. They’re great string arrangements, and by the way, you know, I Will Survive is, it ought well to be the national anthem of this country with a big question mark at the end of it.   HH: (laughing)   MS: So don’t blame me if the current state of things, I’m channeling Gloria Gaynor.   HH: You also channeled Last Dance by…this was really one of the more remarkable Steyn pieces I’ve read in a long time, so I just wanted to do a checkup on you. Are you back in the studio with Jessica?   MS: (laughing) Well, you know something, after we did the disco version of Marshmallow World, where we stole, I basically stole Last Dance for the front of that record…   HH: Yes.   MS: And at the end of it, our conductor and arranger, Kevin Amos, who basically spent the 1970s boogying to Mahler, so this was like fairly…and the band had all been depressed when they came in. We said okay, we’re doing a disco version of Marshmallow World. They were thinking oh, God, sell out, I hope my name’s not on it. And at the end of it, everyone goes wow, this is great. And like Kevin goes from now on, we’re only going to do disco records.   HH: So are you back in studio?   MS: So I stand by disco. If we can’t win the Afghan war, but I’m going to win the disco war.   HH: Well, if the world’s going to hell, and the President’s West Point, and by the way, on a serious note, the West Point speech may have been the worst speech ever given by a president at any occasion, much less on the grounds of one of our military academies. It truly was incoherent, Mark.   MS: Oh, absolutely, and that’s what I mean about the 12 year old pajamas boys running things. I mean, he said, he defined American exceptionalism. He goes what makes us exceptional? He actually said this. What makes us exceptional is that we live up to international norms. Well, by definition, if it’s a norm, you can’t be execeptional.   HH: You’re not exceptional. Yes.   MS: Sweden lives up to international norms. New Zealand lives up to international norms. But the 12 year old pajama boy who wrote that didn’t think it was idiotic, and the President didn’t care enough not to do anything but just slough it off in that usual Wimbledon-ping pong rally thing, where he swivels from left teleprompter to right teleprompter with that glassy-eyed look on his face as if he’d rather, you know, he can’t wait to get back on the golf course. And nobody cares. They don’t care about the words they put in this guy’s mouth, and he doesn’t care what rubbish he utters.   HH: Yeah, where have all the speechwriters gone? A last 30 seconds, you’re sad to see Juan Carlos leave his crown on the chair and leave the room?   MS: Well, he was, I mean, and this is, we mock, you know, Obama and all the rest of it. But sometimes, you know, you need the right guy in the job to make the difference. And in 1981, when Spain’s democracy was barely out of its cradle, and there was an attempted fascist coup, and it looked like we were going to go back to the Franco days, Juan Carlos actually all but single handedly saved Spanish democracy when he stood against the coup and he went on TV to stand against the coup. And that should remind us. It’s not a small thing when your leadership is empty and hollow. Sometimes, you might…   HH: You might need it. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America.   End of interview. ]]>
(Review Source)
Love Streams
VJ Morton
Love Streams

★★★★½ Watched 12 Oct, 2017

LOVE STREAMS (Cassavetes, USA, 1984, 9)

As Chris Berman would say, this ... is why ... we play ... the games. Why I give the canonized directors every chance, even if I don't like them. You just never know when you'll find That One Exception (Godard's WEEKEND) or when you started out with the wrong films (Pasolini) or when your tastes have changed (Tarkovsky).

I strongly disliked HUSBANDS, FACES and SHADOWS (and anti-convinced by positive reviews of them) because they… more

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(Review Source)
John Hanlon
(”Love the Coopers” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The end of 2016 is quickly approaching. With that in mind, patient I went back and created a list of all of the films that I reviewed this year and the different ratings I gave them. Of course, story this isn’t a complete list of all of the films I saw this year.... <img src="http://www.johnhanlonreviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens-Photo-270x350.jpg" type="image/jpeg"/>
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John Hanlon
This past weekend, cheapest three new films opened domestically in over 1500 theaters. One of them featured an ensemble cast that included three Oscar winners. Another one told the inspirational true story of thirty-three men who were trapped in a mine together for over two... <img src="http://www.johnhanlonreviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Box-office-report-Spectre1-270x400.jpg" type="image/jpeg"/>
(Review Source)
John Hanlon
For all of its obvious faults (and there are plenty of them), information pills Love the Coopers offers one valuable lesson. When a police officer is advising an unrepentant thief in the film, page he offers this advice: “Try and be the person... <img src="http://www.johnhanlonreviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Love-the-Coopers-Review-105x88.jpg" type="image/jpeg"/>
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Crosswalk
Movies DVD Release Date: February 9, 2016Theatrical Release Date: November 13, 2015Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements, language and some sexuality)Genre: ComedyRun Time: 105 min.Director: Jessie NelsonCast: Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Diane Keaton, Jake Lacy, Anthony Mackie, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde Lightweight rom-coms have become part and parcel of the holiday season, although such films in recent years haven't all been aimed at the whole family. Love Actually (2003) is a recent template for this type of film, which focuses on numerous couples who are somehow connected, and who are working through various trials. Among the many other entries are The Holiday (2006) and Best Man Holiday (2013), the latter of which showed that the formula could work across racial lines. But Love Actually and Best Man Holiday also demonstrated that Hollywood isn't always interested in appealing across age lines with these holiday-themed movies. Unafraid to push the content limits, these films exclude younger viewers by focusing on more mature content, adding a lot of frank dialogue and garnering a more restrictive R rating. Love the Coopers, this year's entry in the holiday rom-com sweepstakes, doesn't go as far as Love Actually and Best Man Holiday did—Coopers is rated PG-13, as The Holiday was—but it traffics in lame cultural stereotypes and pokes conservative religious viewers in the eye with one of its story threads—all in its first few minutes. The story then offsets its very rough start by introducing some softer, sweeter characters in separate storylines. Nevertheless, although it improves as it goes, Love the Coopers digs a deep enough hole early on that, by the time it manages to dig itself out, it’s hard to know if the effort was worthwhile. The film's central couple (of several) is Charlotte (Diane Keaton, And So It Goes) and Sam (John Goodman, Flight), who are preparing to separate after decades of marriage. They need to break the news to their children, but Charlotte insists they put on a happy face for one more Christmas family dinner.SEE ALSO: Christmas Spirit Fights Coarse Dialogue in Best Man Holiday googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); Granddad Bucky (Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine) spends his days at a restaurant he doesn't care for, just so he can visit with Ruby (Amanda Seyfried, Pan), a young waitress with whom he's bonded. He shares movie recommendations with Ruby, who watches the films and then discusses her reactions with Bucky. Their friendship is the first sign that Love the Coopers isn't going to be without some sweetness to its mostly sour story. Emma (Marisa Tomei—mystifyingly cast as Keaton's sister, despite an 18-year age difference in real life) is an amateur psychologist who, while doing some holiday shopping, decides to steal a brooch. Nabbed by security, Emma is taken into custody and transported across the city in a police cruiser by Officer Williams (Anthony Mackie, Our Brand is Crisis). The chatty Emma uses the trip to pepper Williams with personal questions from the back seat of his cruiser, quickly determining, in a way that only could happen in a corny screenplay, that Williams is a closeted homosexual. Did I mention that Love the Coopers is supposed to be a comedy? A daughter, Eleanor (Olivia Wilde, Butter), is a struggling playwright who's involved with a married man. Dreading the trip home, and her mom's requisite disapproval of her life choices, Eleanor strikes up a conversation with Joe (Jake Lacy, Obvious Child), a soldier. Their attraction is obvious, but she bluntly expresses contempt for the culturally conservative positions she suspects Joe, a Christian, probably holds. Joe tries to give as good as he gets in their conversation, but the screenwriters have rigged the game by giving Eleanor the more memorable (if poorly justified) zingers. Still, Eleanor is not without her own problems, and, eager to hide some of them from her parents, she convinces Joe to pose as her boyfriend and tag along during her Christmas visit.SEE ALSO: Brothers Buries Its Most Interesting Themes The hapless Hank (Ed Helms, The Hangover), Charlotte and Sam's son, has lost his job as a department-store photographer and wants to hide his unemployment from his parents and siblings. His marriage has ended, and he can barely keep up with his boys, the older of whom is determined to kiss the girl for whom the boy has been pining. The characters will all come together for the holiday dinner—even the family dog plays a role in the story—and maybe, just maybe, there will be some form of happy ending for each character. It all feels contrived, of course, but the Bucky/Ruby storyline is genuinely sweet, and even the Eleanor/Joe thread, which starts so poorly, has us rooting for the couple by the end. But those plusses are up against some strong negatives—a crude running joke about a young girl's favorite phrase, the lazy stereotyping, the forced intimacy of Tomei's interrogation of Mackie, and a "kooky" aunt (June Squibb, Nebraska) who's there mainly to be laughed at—most of which are set in motion early in the film. Because the film isn't completely without redeeming characters and qualities, you might find yourself in a forgiving mood while watching Love the Coopers. But you don't have to be a Scrooge to sum up the film with your own personal humbug. Coopers may not rate as a Christmas turkey, but with so many superior holiday films available to see at home, why pay first-run admission prices for this borderline (at best) movie?SEE ALSO: A Madea Christmas is a Bit Naughty, a Bit Nice CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers): googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); Language/Profanity: Lord's name taken in vain; a young girl repeats “you’re such a d-ck” more than once during the film; a suggestion that a misheard hymn lyric makes it sound like “God had an orgasm”; a man is encouraged to “go out and get some”; “bull-hit” Drinking/Smoking/Drugs: Drinking; a memory of spiked eggnog; people meet at a bar; a toast Sex/Nudity: Kissing,including first kiss and early attempts at French kissing; a man notices how a dressed woman at a restaurant rests her breasts on the table; discussion of a man’s sex life; a couple who confess to being former hippies acknowledge past pot smoking; a memory of a couple's first time having sex Violence/Crime: Vomiting; a boy imagines punching an older boy who actually does punch the younger boy’s brother; a woman has scars on her wrists Religion/Morals/Marriage: Christmas hymns are sung, but with the wrong words inadvertently; a character remembers her fiancé's betrayal; a man says he's gay "only in bed"; a couple's marriage is ending after 40 years; a woman asks a man if he's "one of those churchy Republicans," and she says Nina Simone's voice is the closest she gets to believing in God; a boy is said to have felt "unclaimed" after his parents divorce; a woman is seeing a married man and says she doesn't believe in marriage; a bumper sticker says that the family that prays together stays together; a man is encouraged to go along with a woman's lie; a family is encouraged to say grace before their meal, but no one wants to say it Publication date: November 12, 2015 ]]>
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Plugged In
ComedyDrama We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.Movie ReviewChristmas is supposed to be a season that brings "tidings of comfort and joy." That's certainly what the rollicking old carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" proclaims. But for some families, the holidays stir up ghosts of Christmas past, memories of better times … and deep pain. Instead of bringing comfort and joy, Christmas comes freighted with discomfort and despair—not to mention dysfunction and deception. So it is with the Coopers, a family with a lot of unresolved relational baggage—not exactly the kind of packages anyone wants to unwrap. Sam and Charlotte have been holding their failing marriage together for a long time. Their union has endured 40 years, six months and three days, we're told by our omniscient narrator, the Coopers' loyal dog, Rags. But three decades before, Sam had planned a dream trip to Africa that never happened. Instead, bills happened. And life. And death. And conflict. (Charlotte's never cared much about her husband's longing to travel someplace exotic with her.) So they've decided to call it quits. But not, Charlotte insists, until after one last yuletide celebration. "I want the kids to have the memory of one last perfect Christmas," she begs. Sam agrees to pretend that everything's OK. But it isn't. Not surprisingly, the Cooper offspring also have a hard time telling the truth. There's Hank, a single father of three (Charlie, Bo and Madison) who doesn't have the heart to tell his family (or his ex-wife, Angie) that he's been laid off. Then there's Eleanor, who's never gotten over a breakup years before—or, for that matter, her sense that she's always a disappointment to her mother. So when she meets a charming soldier named Joe at an airport bar, flirting leads to Eleanor hatching a crazy gambit: impressing Mom by bringing Joe home and introducing him as her new boyfriend. Charlotte's never-married sister, Emma, also struggles with lifelong resentment toward her older sibling. But when she gets arrested for shoplifting a Christmas gift for big sis (because Emma resents having to spend any money on Charlotte), it's not clear she's even going to make it for dinner. (Doing so will require sweet-talking taciturn police officer Percy Williams out of taking her to jail.) And this being an ensemble dramedy, we're not done yet. Bucky (Charlotte and Emma's father) spends his lonely days (after his wife's passing) hanging out at a diner, tended to faithfully by an equally lonely waitress. Ruby and Bucky enjoy each other's camaraderie—more than either of them will let on, in fact. So when Bucky finds out Ruby's moving away to try to jumpstart her disappointing life, he's furious. So furious he … invites her to come with him to the Coopers' for Christmas. If all that sounds like a recipe for a heaping helping of conflict for Christmas dinner, well, it most certainly is. Positive ElementsEarly on, Sam and Charlotte play with their granddaughter, Madison, in the snow. Rags notes how we often miss the significance of such terrific moments in life. In other words, experiencing and embracing happiness is an elusive thing, the movie says, because when we're most joyful, we may not be paying attention. Each character remembers key moments in the past when he or she was happy. And as the story progresses, most of them gradually realize that they're having good moments right now, too, even in their messy present. To embrace those moments, these family members must unclench their grip on old grievances. Though the film never talks about forgiveness, per se, it does convey a sense that happiness requires letting go of the stuff that hurt us so we can be aware of the best things happening now. That theme is paired with the observation that true intimacy and lasting companionship doesn't magically evolve in marriage. In Sam and Charlotte's sad relationship, both have refused to let go of decades-old disappointments. Rags says of that emotional erosion, "It was about the thousand microscopic hurts that accumulate over 40 years." In the end, though, Sam and Charlotte realize that they really do still love each other, even though their union hasn't been as perfect as Charlotte had hoped—or as she'd frequently wanted the world to believe. Speaking of Charlotte's perfectionist tendencies, both her daughter (Eleanor) and her sister (Emma) ultimately have confrontational heart-to-heart talks with her about how she's hurt them—something Charlotte has never really grappled with. Eleanor, for her part, has walled off her heart, preferring to live vicariously through others' emotions. But Joe connects with her, getting underneath her thick emotional armor, and a real romance blossoms even as they pretend to be in one. Eleanor is also self-aware about her significant flaws and her ambivalence toward her family. "Doesn't it suck how we want to run from our families and impress them at the same time?" she asks. A moment later, she says her attitude toward her family might be best summed up by her made-up word anticipointment: She longs for their approval, but she suspects she probably won't get it. Hank has lessons to learn about being honest, too. He can't pay alimony due to his financial woes, and he laments, "I was a failure at marriage; I don't want to be a failure at divorce." Bucky, especially, encourages him to keep trying. Bucky and Ruby enjoy a sweet relationship, with the older man often giving her movies to watch so they can talk about them. Theirs is not a romance, but rather a tender, innocent, grandfather-granddaughter kind of love. He tries to convince Ruby that everyone feels sadness and loneliness sometimes, and that simply moving someplace new won't solve her problems.Spiritual ContentJoe and Eleanor are spiritual opposites, with each mocking the other's convictions. Joe is a conservative Republican Christian soldier, and those elements clash with Eleanor's aggressively liberal atheism. She's a big believer in evolution; she says the closest she's ever gotten to God was listening to jazz singer Nina Simone; and she summarizes Christianity by saying it's God telling us, "Love me most, or go to hell." But while Eleanor playfully mocks Joe's faith, the film at tries to reserve judgment. And eventually Eleanor confesses to Joe that she actually finds his faith attractive. As the Cooper clan digs in to eat Christmas dinner, Joe says they need to say grace … while giving a nod to the various beliefs of others. (His prayer is interrupted by a jarring abuse of Jesus' name.) Christmas carols turn up throughout the movie. They're even sung by the family, and the majority of them aren't secular carols like "Jingle Bells." Instead, we hear songs that focus on the real reason for the season, such as "Silent Night," "We Three Kings," "Little Drummer Boy," "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Joy to the World." Sam's a Scrooge in that he deliberately mis-sings some carols, which always prompts correction from Charlotte. Sexual ContentEleanor and Joe share passionate kisses. She confesses to him that she has been having an ongoing affair with a married man. Charlie, who's in high school, is determined to kiss a girl named Lauren. He visits her at the mall where she's working, telling himself internally, "Don't look at her boobs," which of course he does. (She's wearing a cleavage-revealing outfit.) They eventually kiss … a lot … sloppily and intensely. We see her practically crawl on top of him as they make out. Sam and Charlotte also make out. He fondly references his "first time" with her. We see them changing their pants. (She's in leggings and a long shirt, he's in boxers.) Elsewhere, we hear that Hank got Angie (now his ex-wife) pregnant when they were in high school. There's talk of Percy being gay "only in bed." It's hinted that he's hidden his lifestyle choices to avoid his demanding mother's censure. Bucky tells Hank he just needs to go out and have sex to get over his divorce. "Don't let one woman define your life," he says. Sam relates an orgasm joke to a Christmas carol's lyrics. Bucky jokes about an aging woman's breasts. A young boy tells a girl, "Show me yours, I'll show you mine." She lifts up her dress, revealing tights and a full-length slip; he runs away leaving her feeling taken advantage of. Gingerbread cookies "wear" g-strings.Recommended ResourceA Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey With Your Kids About SexKevin LemanEven the bravest parents feel timid about discussing sex with their 8- to 14-year-olds! This resource offers reassuring, humorous, real-life anecdotes along with reliable information to help you with this challenging task.Buy NowViolent ContentCharlie gets punched by Lauren's ex. Charlie's little brother, Bo, imagines yanking his brother's assailant's pants down, then decking him. Bucky notices scars on Ruby's wrists that imply she's attempted suicide.Crude or Profane LanguageOne s-word. "P---y" is used once as a putdown. We hear "h---" and variants of "d--n" twice each. Little Madison has gotten into the habit of telling people, "You're such a d--k!" a phrase we hear from her twice. (It's implied that she picked up the vulgarity from her dad, who uses it once). There are at least two dozen misuses of God's name. (Several times His name is paired with "d--n"). Jesus' is abused once.Drug and Alcohol ContentJoe and Eleanor have drinks (martinis, shots) at the airport bar. There's wine at Christmas dinner and a joke about hard eggnog. While talking with a teen who admits he's been busted for smoking weed, Sam and Charlotte joke about their drug use back in the '60s.Other Negative ElementsRude jokes are made about a Christmas dish that gives a child diarrhea. Rags' flatulence drives the Cooper family from the dining room.ConclusionChristmas can be a time when we want everything to be perfect. Charlotte Cooper definitely does. But what if everything isn't just so? What if, under the surface, insecurities and old hurts and unresolved conflict still linger? Those are the kinds of questions Love the Coopers digs into, sprinkling comedy into the struggles this family faces. Family is the place where we expect and long for unconditional love. And when it doesn't happen, the resulting wounds can go deep. In Eleanor's case, it prompts her to say to Joe, "Sometimes I think that I might be unlovable." The temptation with such wounds is not to tell the truth about them, because telling the truth is risky. Lying—whether in "little white" ways or via whoppers like Eleanor and Joe's concocted romance—seems safer. What Love the Coopers does effectively is show how "playing it safe" through such deception ultimately makes us feel more alienated and isolated from those whose love and affirmation we long for the most. “Don’t we all sort of struggle with this fraud complex?” actor Ed Helms (who plays Hank) asked in an interview with USA Today. "Everyone is afraid of being exposed for everything that they are. We present a sort of edited version of ourselves to the world, especially with our families, where there’s just so much baggage and so much expectation. When you get to explore that, it’s actually kind of uplifting because it reinforces that we’re in this together. We’re all kind of stumbling through and just trying to make the best of it. … There’s frustration, there’s love, there’s support, there are long-held grudges, but ultimately, there’s this sense that we’re actually better off all being together.” That is indeed the core message in Love the Coopers. We're better off together. Better off telling the truth than lying. Better off trusting that our family can accept us just as we are than trying so hard to pretend we're in better shape than we really are. The core content in the movie, though, is another Christmas story. It's not Bad Santa, thankfully. Not even close. But foul and profane language, along with some sexual stuff still treat those mashed potatoes on the table in just about the same way Rags does. And slobber like that doesn't make the big meal nearly as appetizing as you'd like it to be.Pro-social ContentObjectionable ContentSummary AdvisoryPlot SummaryChristian BeliefsOther Belief SystemsAuthority RolesProfanity/ViolenceKissing/Sex/HomosexualityDiscussion TopicsAdditional Comments/NotesEpisode Reviews]]>
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Plugged In
Thought that James Bond’s newest movie couldn’t top the box office for a second straight week? Never say never again, people. The world’s most famous secret agent used his gold finger to climb to the top again, renewing Spectre‘s license to make a killing. Spectre rolled another strike with its thunderball, earning an estimated $35.4 million this weekend. That brings the flick’s domestic haul to $130.7 million. Worldwide, it’s already made more than half a billion dollars or thereabouts, including the equivalent of $6.3 million in a big chunk of the former Soviet Union. Talk about from Russia with love. Keep this up, and Bond won’t have to rely on Her Majesty’s secret service to make ends meet anymore. (Perhaps he could invest in diamonds. They’re forever, you know.) But there was more to the weekend’s numbers than 007. Charlie Brown and company also made the box office’s little red-haired girl smile. The Peanuts Movie earned $24.2 million to finish second for the second straight week. And that ain’t, y’know, peanuts. The Bond-Brown partnership was way, way too much for the weekend’s strongest newcomer. While audiences didn’t hate Love the Coopers, they certainly didn’t seem to like ’em, either. The star-studded Christmas comedy earned just $8.4 million—about a third of what Peanuts did and less than a fourth of Spectre’s haul. The Martian finished fourth with $6.7 million, undermining (ahem) the debut of The 33. Antonio Banderas’ inspirational rescue drama earned applause from those who saw it (including me), but only $5.8 million got dumped down the shaft leading to the studio’s coffers. Perhaps it’ll dig up some additional treasure in the weeks to come. For now, it seems, the world is not enough for Spectre—at least not until its returns rake the moon. But given that the grand finale of The Hunger Games series is coming to theaters, next weekend may be when we see moviegoers’ affections dwindle for the spy who loved them. Final figures update: 1. Spectre, $33.7 million; 2. The Peanuts Movie, $24 million; 3. Love the Coopers, $8.3 million; 4. The Martian, $6.7 million; 5. The 33, $5.8 million. ]]>
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Society Reviews
Love Wedding Repeat is a fun movie and considering it's one of the few things you can do without your neighbors calling the cops on you right now, there are worse ways to spend you time. 
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VJ Morton
Big Time Adolescence, Brittany Runs a Marathon, Before You Know It and more
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VJ Morton
The best, the worst, the most political, the biggest crowd-pleasers and more.
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VJ Morton
Crosswalk
Movies from Film Forum, 08/01/02The stream of low-profile "art films" is increasing as we head towards fall. Soon the big Oscar-begging dramas will start popping up. (Some argue that the first big "Fall movie" actually opened in June: Road to Perdition.)Critics are praising writer/director Nicole Holofcener's Lovely and Amazingand its talented cast, which includes Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich) and Brenda Blethyn (Secrets and Lies). The film follows Michelle (Keener) as she struggles in a troubled marriage and then plunges headlong into an affair with her adolescent boss. The self-absorption and poor self-image of Michelle and her two sisters stem from the similarly flawed perspective of their mother (Blethyn), and the film explores this surface tension—reportedly with little insight. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-1'); }); J. Robert Parks (The Phantom Tollbooth) says the film contains its own criticism. "Once Lovely and Amazing has established [its] characters and their damaged relationships, the movie doesn't know what to do with them. Instead of moving forward or backwards, the script just gives us more of the same. With such an outstanding cast, it's no surprise that the acting is top-notch. Lovely and Amazing starts off well and then loses its way." googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-2'); }); if (gptClientWidth >= 992 && gptClientWidth <= 1000000) googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('gpt-ad-3'); }); The USCCB's critic writes, "Holofcener asks how children—biological or not—deal with and internalize their parents qualities and fixations. Can similar obsessions dominate a family? The film is mostly engaging as it deconstructs American women's insecurities in general, and in particular their anxious attitude about body weight. Yet Holofcener's light touch remains superficial, rarely delving deeply into the psychological or emotional depths that such issues can withstand. And as the characters make attempts to improve their lives, their choices and behavior can be off-putting." ]]>
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